When I was given George Plant’s photographs I began a quest to find out more about him. Gordon and Pam Lomas, who gave me the photographs, believed that George had worked for Biddulph Council and had been involved in family history research.
Mr. John Sherratt kindly gave me the telephone number of Keith and Rosa Rathbone and they provided the following information. Mr. Rathbone is a local man, his mother (Ruth Bestwick) was born at Hot Beds Farm, Lask Edge in 1893, her father’s family were farmers originating from Alstonfield and Elkstone. Eventually his grandfather and his family moved to live at Brown Lees when he worked at Victoria Colliery not as a miner but looking after the horses used in the pit. At the time of the dreadful fire in Brown Lees Mr. Rathbone’s mother was working in service for Sir Francis Joseph in Alsager where she met his father. Mr. Rathbone’s father’s family came from Brereton but were then living and working in Alsager. His parents purchased No. 2 Newpool Cottage, Brown Lees towards the end of 1947. The cottage was originally a fairly large farmhouse which was split into two houses numbered Nos. 2 and 4. The original neighbours were a Mr. and Mrs. Diss and when they moved away the Plant family moved in in late 1948.
George William Thomas Plant was born on the 2nd October 1918
Mr. and Mrs. Plant moved in with George and two of his brothers, Ken and Bert. They were a fairly large family and in age order there was John, George, Ken, Martha, Annie, Herbert, and Bert. Mr. Rathbone believed George would have been about 37 or 38 when the family moved in. Bert was the youngest in the family, but tragically he was killed when he was a passenger in a car involved in an accident at Mossley crossroads before traffic lights were installed.
John was the eldest and a gardener at Biddulph Grange. He was also a lay preacher and there is a tribute to him at Cloudside Chapel. John was an expert at laying hedges and Mr. Rathbone remembered him laying the hedges along Congleton Road for many years (he believes the landowners Bostock’s employed him to do that work). Mr. Rathbone can’t remember John living at Brown Lees.
George worked for the old Biddulph Urban District Council as a general labourer, he worked collecting and emptying the bins, he was very strong, all the dustmen then used to lift the bins and carry them on their shoulders to empty them into the dustcart.
“As children at the Newpool end of Brown Lees we were all a little bit wary of George,” Mr Rathbone said, “not that he did anything wrong or troubled us in any way, it was more the way he dressed and type of clothing always wearing old working clothes, clogs, and even an old army greatcoat”. George’s brother Ken nearly always wore blue overall trousers and jacket.
The family were all hard workers who kept themselves to themselves. George and his father kept the garden tidy, grew vegetable’s and kept a few chickens at the end of the garden (just as my Mr. Rathbone’s mother did).
Mrs Jackson (Martha) better known as ‘Doll’ ran a small market garden with fairly large greenhouses opposite Newpool Terrace, where she would be seen walking about in wellingtons from early morning to late in the day. Mr. Rathbone doesn’t believe Martha lived at Number 4 and he thinks that Martha Jackson is the only member of the family still alive.
Mr. Rathbone received his National Service call up papers in 1954, then shortly after he was demobbed in 1956 he got married and moved to Wharf Road in Biddulph, later he moved and was living and working in Hampshire. In 1966 George married Mr. Rathbone’s widowed sister Joan and when Mr. Rathbone returned to Biddulph in 1969 he got to know George much better.
George was a very kind and thoughtful person and very interesting to talk to being very knowledgeable about Biddulph and Biddulph families. George’s handwriting was excellent, probably the product of being educated at Biddulph Moor School, he was no mug and could put together a good letter. George also owned a house in Railway cottages which he rented to his brother Ken.
After George retired he took up photography and if he knew or heard of a building in Biddulph or the surrounding area due to be demolished he would make it his business to take a photograph for his own information. Some 200 of these photographs Mr. Rathbone put onto a CD Rom for him. George took up genealogy and researched both his own and the Scarlett family tree. Mr. Rathbone has come across letters on the internet thanking George for his assistance in sorting out family trees for people who originated in Biddulph Moor and the surrounding areas.
George loved to walk, an early riser he would get up with the lark and would consider a walk to Carmountside and the return home via Biddulph Moor to be just a short stroll. George was a regular visitor to Mr. And Mrs. Rathbone’s house with his dog Prince before and after Mr. Rathbone’ sister, George’s wife, died.
George died on the 11th of January 1994.
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